WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) – Gavin Downs’ quality start on the mound helped lift Purdue baseball to a game one win as the Boilermakers split their season-ending doubleheader with Iowa, winning 6-4 and losing 17-5, Saturday afternoon at Alexander Field.
Purdue (13-37, 6-18 Big Ten) scored three times in the first inning of game one and later took the game thanks to three runs over the seventh and eighth innings. The Hawkeyes (29-21, 10-14 Big Ten) blew the nightcap open early with seven two-out runs in the top of the first. The Boilermakers dropped their ninth straight weekend rubber game back to May 2012.
Downs (3-6) did not walk a batter while surrendering three runs (two earned) over seven innings of eight-hit ball. He induced three ground ball double plays, including starting a pair of 1-6-3 twin killings. Purdue turned six double plays on the day and finished the regular season having racked up a Big Ten-high 54 twin killings.
Matt Gibbs earned his first career save by retiring six of the eight batters he faced over the final two innings. The junior finished the season with an impressive 2.08 ERA (1.53 in Big Ten play) while working 39 innings of relief over 18 appearances. Gibbs’ .153 batting average against on conference weekends was the best in the league this year.
Brandon Krieg accounted for the go-ahead run in the seventh inning of game one thanks to a nifty slide at the plate, scoring from second base after a well-struck grounder off the bat off Sean McHugh trickled through the legs of Iowa second baseman Jake Mangler. Krieg walked in game one and doubled in game two to finish the season riding a 19-game reached base safely streak. Jack Picchiotti had two hits in both games Saturday, including a two-run single in the nightcap, and finished his sophomore season having reached base safely in the last 19 games in which he started.
Kyle Wood finished the day 3-for-8 vs. McHugh’s 2-for-9, allowing Wood to leapfrog his teammate and close the season as the team leader with a .302 batting average. McHugh (.297) had a chance to become the first Boiler to win the team triple crown since 2007.
Five consecutive Purdue hitters reached base safely in the first inning of game one, with Kyle Johnson singling home Cody Strong for the first run of the game and Kyle Upp following with a two-run double. Consecutive two-out walks to Krieg and Strong – the first two walks of the game issued by either team – led to the Boilers’ go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh. Kyle Wood also doubled home a run in that inning.
Connor Podkul retired the first two batters of the first inning of game two, but was unable to record another out. Three singles, three walks and a hit batter ended Podkul’s day. Another bases-loaded walk and a two-run single made it a seven-run rally. All nine hitters in the Iowa lineup reached base safely in the inning. Game two Saturday marked the 11th time this season in which a Purdue starting pitcher worked one inning or fewer.
Mike Lutz was the first man out of the bullpen in the nightcap, making his Big Ten-leading 30th appearance of the year. He became just the third pitcher in program history to appear in 30 games in a season. However, the sophomore was only able to retire one of the seven batters he faced Saturday. The Boilermakers used seven pitchers in game two and only Patrick Kenney was unscored upon.
Offensively, Purdue scored three runs on four hits in the third inning of the nightcap. Krieg, McHugh and Johnson all doubled in the inning. Seniors Conner Hudnall and Steve Maniago each had a pair of hits in their final collegiate games. They were honored along with their classmate McHugh between games of the doubleheader.
Iowa finished tied for seventh with Ohio State in the Big Ten standings, but will be the No. 8 seed and take on regular-season champion Indiana in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament Wednesday in Omaha, Neb. The Boilermakers have failed to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2002 and 2003.
Purdue is scheduled to return 29 of its 32 active letter-winners from this season for the 2015 campaign.